How did I become interested in the Victorian Forts?

My Grandfather (left) was stationed in Karachi, when my mother was born in 1908. He was a corporal in the Royal Engineers. In 1911 an air battalion of the R.E. was formed and he applied for it. Initially it was formed with 14 officers and 150 other ranks. Officers could be selected from any branch of the service whereas other ranks were selected from the Corps of Royal Engineers.This became the Royal Flying Corps in 1912. He was posted to Fort Grange in Gosport just after the beginning of the First World War. Fort Grange was the HQ of R.F.C. Station No.2. He stayed there throughout the War achieving the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major W.O. Class 1 on 2nd May 1917. In March 1918 he became a Lieutenant in the RFC on the list of Extra Regimentally Employed officers. He told me, when I was very young, that he was once sent out to the Spithead forts in charge of a party tasked with wiring them for electricity. He became stranded for two days by the weather before a boat could be sent to take him and his party off. All he had with him to eat was a pack of sandwiches.

My mother attended the garrison school attached to Fort Rowner, which was also part of The Grange flying field. The airfield was constructed between Fort Grange and Fort Rowner.

She married and when I was born she was living in the next road to the old garrison school, close to the Military Road that connected the five Gosport forts. As a child I attended the garrison church on Sundays. It was directly opposite the keep of Fort Rowner. I often stood on its bridge and wondered why it was built and what was inside, it was such an intriguing building with its gun ports and wet ditch. I asked my Grandfather What is that Grandad? He replied, That is MY Fort! He was the RSM Disciplinarian for the RFC based at the Flying Field adjacent to Forts Grange and Rowner before becoming a Commissioned Officer.


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Lieutenant William Rennie wearing the uniform of an RAF Officer in 1918. The khaki uniform is the first RAF service dress uniform prior to the blue issue. His rank is Second Lieutenant, indicated by the single bar on each side of his cap badge (worn by Second Lieutenants and Lieutenants) and the gold eagle on his jacket lower sleeve - gold lace bands around the cuff to indicate rank started with Lieutenant. He has a Long Service Good Conduct bar above his left pocket.

Lieutenant William Law Rennie in his RAF uniform.

(Thanks to the Great War forum for the information on his uniform)



Warrant Officer David Moore, Corps of Schoolmasters

David Moore in the uniform of a

Warrant Officer Schoolmaster

in the Corps of Schoolmasters, 1880s.





The Garrison Church, Military Road, Gosport in 1966. It stood opposite the keep of Fort Rowner. Fort Rowner with the Garrison Church to the right Fort Rowner photographed in 1966

The Garrison Church in 1966 known as 'The Tin Church'.

Fort Rowner and The Garrison Church

Fort Rowner viewed from the front of the Garrison Church in 1966.


Lieutenant William Rennie RFC.

Lieutenant William Rennie RFC.


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